Lenny Cavallaro is a “Renaissance man,” steeped in the classics: Greek tragedy, Shakespearean drama, and classical music. He has also boxed, earned a third-degree black belt in karate, run marathons, refereed futsal and soccer, and practiced hypnosis and reiki professionally.
Cavallaro’s first novel was Trojan Dialogues: The Memoirs of Diomedes, an audacious retelling of the Trojan War. He has also written a novella about a bare-knuckle boxer, The Greatest Champion Who Never Was. His interests in Shakespeare and Sophocles spawned two dramatic efforts, Hamlet, Revisited, a one-act play, and Odysseus Acanthoplex, a conjectural “completion” of fragments by the great Greek tragedian.
In addition to the novels in this series (If Music Be the Food of Love and Paradise Regained and Lost Again, with others to follow), Cavallaro has recently completed The Sherlock Holmes and the Mysteries of the Chess World and “edited and revised” Paganini Agitato, a novel by Ann Abelson, based on the life of the legendary violinist, Niccolo Paganini. Both are scheduled for publication in 2022.
An accomplished pianist, Cavallaro was a top prizewinner in the J.S. Bach International Competition and subsequently performed that composer’s Six Partitas to the highest critical acclaim in Carnegie Recital Hall. He has achieved even more recognition as a composer, with eleven published volumes, most notably his works for English horn and piano (released by Forton Music) and violin and piano (Broadbent & Dunn). In 2015, he wrote a conjectural "completion" of Contrapunctus XIV from Bach's unfinished masterpiece, The Art of the Fugue.
Cavallaro majored in literature at the University of Connecticut and later earned his Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree from West Virginia University. He has served on the English and/or music faculties of several colleges in New England.
The father of two children, Cavallaro currently resides in Methuen, Massachusetts.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your hobbies and interests.
I entertain pretensions as a “Renaissance man,” though perhaps a "Renaissance mediocrity" is closer to the mark! I have a background in the classics: Greek tragedy, Shakespearean drama, and classical music. Somewhat surprisingly (particularly for a pianist), I have also boxed, earned a third-degree black belt in karate, refereed futsal and soccer, and run marathons. For most of my professional life I have taught at the secondary and/or collegiate level, and I also practiced hypnosis and reiki professionally.
An accomplished pianist and composer, I performed Bach’s SIX PARTITAS to the highest critical acclaim in Carnegie Recital Hall and achieved even more recognition as a composer. Eleven volumes of my music have been published, and I also wrote a conjectural "completion" of "Contrapunctus XIV" from Bach's unfinished masterpiece, THE ART OF THE FUGUE in 2015.
I am somewhat reluctant to share personal information. However, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention my two children.
When and why did you start writing books?
I began sketching my first book, TROJAN DIALOGUES: THE MEMOIRS OF DIOMEDES, in the late 1980s, and it was not published until 2003. [It has since been reissued on Kindle.] "Why" do I write -- or compose music, for that matter? I believe my need to create lies deep within my psyche. If I may parody Descartes, "I live, therefore I must create." Much of the material, both literary and musical, has come to me in dreams, and I feel morally obligated to share it, even without recognition or reward.
What made you decide to tackle writing as a career?
I would be delighted if I could make a "career" out of writing. At this point, I am an "unheralded unknown," although I certainly hope to continue writing (and composing) for many years to come.
Which one of your books or characters is your favourite?
Elena, from the current series, is far and away my favorite. Although the first two and one-half volumes are actually Giovanni's story (or memoirs), she is the true heroine of the saga, and I am completely in love with her!
Which one of your books was the hardest to write and stretched you the most as a writer?
The entire series (i.e., THE PASSION OF ELENA BIANCHI) flowed quite effortlessly, yet it was the most difficult to write emotionally. I was often moved to tears as I added details to the lives of these characters. Of course, the series is a love story, and parts of it have moved some readers to outright laughter. Nevertheless, I think they will see that even in the first two books (i.e., IF MUSIC BE THE FOOD OF LOVE and PARADISE REGAINED AND LOST AGAIN), tragic elements are never far behind.
Who is your favourite author and book?
Now THAT is a tough one! With drama, I waver between Shakespeare (MACBETH), Sophocles (OEDIPUS REX), and Euripides (MEDEA). My favorite poet is Frost, but my favorite poem is Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Many novels "top" my list, including Swift's GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, Twain's HUCKLEBERRY FINN and THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER, and Lindsay's more obscure A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS.
What book are you reading right now?
I am reviewing a number of titles, and since that list is constantly changing, I must decline to answer. The last book I read solely "for pleasure" was probably THE WARSAW ANAGRAMS, by Richard Zimler, which is of personal interest, not only because my maternal relatives were slaughtered during the Holocaust, but also because I have just begun sketching a book involving an ibbur.
Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
Virtually every book has its own, unique inspiration. The works in THE PASSION OF ELENA BIANCHI probably "began" (at least subconsciously) when I discovered a beautiful song my father had written eleven years before I was born. My interest in reincarnation led me to the "soul fractions," which don't really manifest until later volumes. Some of the actual details are, of course, autobiographical. Finally, I have long been interested in the mystery of Beethoven and his "immortal beloved." Put these things together, add the Holocaust, the Mafia, and various psychic components, throw in a 2,000-year-old Curse, and books appear!
TROJAN DIALOGUES: THE MEMOIRS OF DIOMEDES arose when I watched the BBC series and later read Michael Wood's book with the same title, IN SEARCH OF THE TROJAN WAR. A dream in which I watched a bare-knuckle boxing match in the early 19th century gave rise to THE GREATEST CHAMPION WHO NEVER WAS. My love of the Bard spawned my one-act HAMLET, while my interest in Greek myths and tragedies led invariably to the conjectural "completion" of ODYSSEUS ACANTHOPLEX. [The dramas are slated for eventual release as TWO OEDIPAL PLAYS, but apparently not before 2023.]
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Uh...what is "spare time"? Seriously, though, when I'm not involved with literature or music, I enjoy some of the chess "variants," notably Trice's chess (better known as Gothic chess). I am also committed to a number of environmental causes.
Do you have any new books in the works?
Russell Enterprises will release SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE MYSTERIES OF THE CHESS WORLD later this year (October), while Fomite Press will release Ann Abelson's PAGANINI AGITATO, which I "edited and revised" (and subsequently interpolated new scenes). I have only recently begun the aforementioned work involving an ibbur.
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